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3 minutes reading time (549 words)


A police caution (now known as a ‘simple caution’) is a formal alternative to prosecution in minor cases. A caution forms part of your criminal record and may be referred to in future legal proceedings and, in certain circumstances, may be revealed as part of a criminal record check. It can also have an effect on international travel and emigration.

In order to issue a caution the police must follow the correct procedure. This includes informing you that you are entitled to free legal representation whether this is the duty solicitor or a solicitor of your choice. The implications of a caution must also be explained. If the police neglect to follow the correct procedures you may be able to challenge a police caution and if successful, have the caution removed from your record.

You can only be offered a caution if the following conditions are met:

  • You admit guilt and do not offer a defence;
  • there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction if you were to be prosecuted; and
  • you consent to the caution.

Saunders recently secured the deletion of a simple caution and all personal data held by the police on behalf of our client, M. Rianne McCartney, a solicitor in our Criminal Defence and Regulatory team, acted on behalf of M.


M was issued with a caution in 2006 for common assault The complainant was his mother. M was a teenager at the time and had an argument with his mum as she had told him off for not getting out of bed. M swiped a jewellery box off a table during the argument which hit his mum’s hand and hurt her thumb.

M’s mum did not contact the police herself, however by coincidence they were attending her property regarding a different matter on the same day. Upon arrival she spoke to them about the argument, not realising that she was providing a witness statement. She was not aware that her son would be interviewed regarding an assault and did not support the police doing so.

M attended a voluntary interview at the police station, following which he accepted a caution, being told that it was a ‘slap on the wrist’. He was not offered any legal advice and the implications of a caution were never explained to him. Failure to inform a suspect of their legal rights is a fundamental breach of The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’).

Saunders Law made an application for deletion of the simple caution from the Police National Computer on M’s behalf.

This was successful and the caution has been removed from M’s record. M was previously being prevented from applying to become a citizen of Australia, however he is now able to submit his application with the knowledge that his record is clear

Being asked to attend an interview at a police station can be a very stressful and terrifying time, many are pressured and forced into accepting a caution when there is no real prospect of being convicted. Everyone is entitled to free legal representation at the police station.

Contact our Expert Criminal Defence Lawyers

If you feel that you have reason to challenge a police caution, please contact Saunders Law by calling 020 3811 7541 or make an enquiry online.

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